New Year, new opportunities, new adventures

There are many articles written about how to kickstart your “bucket list” in a new year.  In this blog post, I am not going to focus on that.  What I’d like to write about is what a new year can become.  A new year, like a new month, is something that gives you the opportunity to try again, go on new adventures, improve yourself, and the like.

A new year is seen, by many, as a book full of blank pages; waiting to be filled with faces and things.  A new year, for some, can be daunting.  Many people might be starting the new year alone, due to someone’s death, a separation and the like.  Although it is not easy when you find yourself in such a situation, you should never view it as the final ending.  Indeed, an ending has occurred, but you still have the chance to lift up your chin, put a smile on your face and be blessed with another day to life and laugh.

A new year brings new opportunities, new adventures and meeting new people.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are stuck in a rut; now could be the chance to start making and/or implement the changes.  Change can be daunting, but when you take it one step at a time, one day at a time, it’ll be much easier and, before you know it, the change you wanted, has been made! Whatever the change is that you’d like to make this year, imagine climbing a ladder.  Take one step at a time; don’t try and skip steps and never rush.  Sometimes the process of making the change is bigger than the change itself.  And many times, once the change has been made, you realize, looking back, that it was not so bad / daunting / scary.

There is a saying, “a change is as good as a holiday.”  This rings true, because life is about changes.  Nothing, except change, is constant.  Just look at nature and her children.  Change is a natural occurrence but, instead of worrying about it, the animals and nature itself, goes with the flow.  As humans, society has brainwashed us into thinking and/or believing, that everything should be rushed.  Of course, it is not just society, but also our mental make-up.  Personally, I don’t have a lot of patience; especially when I want something to happen.  However, life has taught me that sometimes things just cannot be rushed and you have to just, relax and breathe. 

Nature is a perfect example of just being in the now and enjoying the moment.  Yesterday is gone; tomorrow hasn’t happened yet.  So best to just be present in today.  When you see today as a present or gift, then you can enjoy every second of today.  If I remember correctly, it was none other than Pooh Bear (Winnie the Pooh), that said that today is a gift (also called a present).  If you don’t know where to start, start by writing down what you’d like to do and/or achieve.  Then make a to-do list of the things you might need or must discard of, to make the changes.  It’s the same as planting a seed.  Once the seed is in the ground, and it gets watered and fed, it can start to sprout.

May this year bring you what you need, what you want and what you were looking for and working towards.  Let it be the year when you stick to your goal (-s), when you make positive and long-lasting changes and, regardless what others think, may you be true to yourself.  Plant your seeds and remember to nurture it the same way you would nurture yourself and your loved ones.  Tune in and become your authentic self; enjoy life and yes, when life throws you lemons, make some lemonade!  The end of something doesn’t mean it is the end of you.  When a door closes, another one will open.  Just “hand it over,” and ask Divinity to help.

End of another year; how time flies

As we come to another year-end, it is time to give gratitude for the things that we got, the people we met and/or loved, and the blessings we got.  All of us go through ups and downs, but it’s the ups that counts!  What would life be without it?  The question is – are you going to focus on all the negatives or are you going to choose to look at all the positives?

I am sure you know the different sayings, “life is a journey; not a destination,” “we are spiritual beings having a human experience,” “look up and look pleased,” and so forth.  When we end this year, may we know that, whatever curveballs were thrown at us, it doesn’t matter.  What does / did matter is the way we react.  Seeing the ups and downs as opportunities to learn and grow; instead of mishaps or mistakes, can make a big difference.

Whatever you think and believe, will come to fruition.  When you blame yourself and/or others for the “wrongs,” then you get stuck in the past.  Letting go and deciding that there is sunshine after the rain, there is a new door that will open, can make a difference to not only how you feel about life and yourself, but also change your outlook in life. 

If you went through a difficult period, it will not be easy.  Time is a gift; using it to look after yourself and putting yourself first, is key.  When you don’t look after yourself, who will?  Yes, you might have a spouse, partner and/or children, but regardless, only you can pick yourself up mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  If you are someone that is struggling to stay positive or worry all the time, make it your new year’s resolution to make changes.

For example, start by switching off the mainstream media.  Stop believing that social media is telling the truth all the time.  Do your research – not only on google, but in books, talk to people who do know about a topic that you aren’t sure about.  Most importantly, start to listen to (and use) your intuition!  Your intuition or gut feeling is, was, and never will be, wrong.  Before making a big decision or getting saying something you might regret, before stirring up an argument, take a deep, slow breath in and out and calm down.

There were many things going on around the world, that might have upset people and/or made people fearful.  If you want to “unplug” from that, then retreat, take deep breathes and/or leave the place or conversation.  To be at peace, doesn’t mean you have to stay on a remote island, on you own; it simply means that you consciously choose to be with people that resonate with you.  Reading, talking and listening to things that are in sync with your beliefs, values, and the like, is a wonderful way to “unplug.”

Let us all give thanks for all our blessings this year.  Have an attitude of gratitude; then the Universe will supply you with so much more!  Have a wonderful New Year and thank you for your support!

Where to go?  The beach, the mountains, the bush or the city?

When planning a getaway, break, long weekend or holiday, there are so many things to consider:  everyone’s likes and dislikes, time of year, cost, what to do and see and the like.  There are so many places, countries and the like, that you can visit, it can be quite overwhelming to decide where to go!  If you are like me, and you love going to different places, then it is easier, in a sense.  However, if you and/or one of the people you go with, are set in their ways and always wants to go to the same place, then it can become an issue.  Compromise should then be made and turns taken to go to both places.

Whether it is the beach, mountains, the bush or a city, each place has its own sense of wonder.  It doesn’t matter where you decide to go, but there will always be something new to see and experience.  What is it, after all, that makes you decide where and/or what your favourite place is for a breakaway?  Is it the weather, the people, the food, the culture and/or the scenery?  When choosing a place; do you like going to the same place every time?  Or do you enjoy visiting new places and exploring?

Think of a beach holiday, for example.  Yes, the sand and the sea are always there, but the scenery is different.  Some beaches are sandy; others have pebbles; in some places the water is warm, whilst in other parts of the world it is cold.  Where do you go to “recharge your batteries?”  Personally, I enjoy all of the above-mentioned places, except the bush!  Seeing the wild animals are beautiful, but when it comes to the fauna and flora, it’s a no-go! 

No matter where you go; being out in nature is key to unwinding and relaxing.  Putting down the phone (unless you are taking photos of course) and the laptop, are important if you really want to “recharge.”  A holiday or getaway, is never successful if you are constantly glued to your screen; whether you are working or not!  In a previous blog, I wrote about switching off the technology and “unplugging.”  It was the best thing I did when I took a short, albeit needed, break.  When you make a conscious choice and effort, to leave it in the safe when you go for a swim, or when you go for a bite to eat, you really and truly connect with the people you are with and your surroundings.  Even when you are on your one, it does wonders for your soul, when you can “disconnect” from your technology and “connect” with your surroundings.

Whether it is the beach, the mountains, the bush or a city, or a combination of them, there is always something to do and to see.  A city can be busy throughout the year; however, when you visit a city where you have never been, it can be a lovely experience.  Some cities / towns can become very quiet as many people take their long holidays either during the summer- or winter breaks (depending where you live). 

Overall, there are many options today and each depends on your likes and dislikes.  Personally, I love being at the coast, but am quite happy to be in the mountains, as well as exploring new places, cities and countries.  Just getting away from our daily routine is what it is all about.  Being able to do what we want, when we want and not doing anything at all; is wonderful and a great way to relax!  For those who, like me, enjoy visiting new places, an organized tour can be a great option; especially if you don’t understand the language!  On the other hand, planning your own tour, renting a car and staying in the bed & breakfasts, can be just as much fun.

A getaway doesn’t have to be expensive, nor boring.  There is so much to see, so much to explore, that I am certain that there is a place for everyone!  Couples might find it tricky if the one person likes the beach but not the bush, for example.  I say compromise!  Maybe you can visit both, on separate occasions, or go to a place that has the best of both?  There are many options today; so, compromise and enjoy your time away from home, away from the office.

There can be times when going away is not on the list.  If that is the case, then take a break at home.  Put off your devices, go for a walk outside or, weather permitting, a swim and treat yourself with a long bath or shower.  Go out and watch a movie, go to your local park, plotter in your garden, go to a museum or concert, or have a bite to eat with friends and/or family.  Just by disconnecting from your computer and phone, will already help you to relax and unwind.  A getaway is a time when you want to completely “switch off” and just be.  Thus, wherever you, my readers, are, during December; I hope you are having a lovely time.  Happy holidays to you and yours!

Staying fit and healthy during the holidays

The holidays, especially December, is a time to rest, recharge and be with family and loved ones.  Staying healthy and fit might not be on everyone’s list.  However, if you are one of those people who would love to continue your routine, but in a more relaxed way, then here are a couple of tips for this time of year.

Going to the gym might not be a choice for everyone during this month.  Depending on where you live, there are many other ways to keep moving and staying fit.  For example, online classes, walking or running outside, hiking, swimming, skiing and the like, are all other forms of exercising outside the traditional gym.  If you are one of those people who feels that their bodies are tired, opt for doing more stretching exercises like Pilates and/or Yoga.  Both these exercise routines are not just focusing on core strength, but also on stretching and unwinding, as they both focus on breathing and relaxing.

Being outside, regardless of the temperatures (in most cases of course), is not just good for the body, but also for our mind and general well-being.  There is nothing better than being out and about in fresh air; it is wonderful for the immune system and a feast for our senses.  For my readers, living in, or visiting, the Northern Hemisphere, make sure to take a Vitamin D-tablet on a regular basis.  Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin for a reason.  Not only does it keep your immune system strong and healthy, but it also feeds your brain and, in turn, your moods.

For those readers in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy the outdoors and sunshine.  Take care not to be in the sun when it is at its hottest; especially if you are not used to it.  The sunshine in the Southern Hemisphere is definitely warmer than in the Northern Hemisphere.  Make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses and protect your skin with some sunscreen.  Regardless where you are in December, make sure to drink enough fluids.  You can still dehydrate if you are spending most of your days indoors, in heating, just like being outdoors.

When it comes to your diet, it is definitely not the end of the world if you “cheat” here and there.  Nobody wants to be eating only salads this time of year!  As always, it is not what you eat but the amount that you eat.  If you do “cheat” and eat a rich cake, for example, never beat yourself up about it.  Enjoy it and know that, once the holidays are over, you can easily slip back into your regular routine.  For those who are cooking, you can choose to use low fat cream, low fat cheese, and so forth, instead of the full cream-versions. 

For most people, this time of year is a time for relaxation, unwinding and just being still.  Indeed, there are people who continue to work, but even they want to spend time, in-between, just to relax and be with loved ones.  Go out and have fun; if you are alone, then meet up with friends, colleagues or family (if possible) and do something together. 

The holiday season is a time when we should be focusing on relaxing, being still and recharging our batteries.  Have that piece of Christmas cake; have the glass of egg nog – just enjoy this time and get back into your routine in January.  At the end of the day, it is not what you eat and drink, but the amount (and portion sizes), that count!  Keep moving, stretch before you go to bed and/or before getting out of bed to keep the circulation going, and have a great time!

December – the silly season

As we enter the last month of the year, it is as if the energies are more frantic and hurried.  Whether it is because it is almost the end of the year, or because of the holiday-vibes, I am not sure.  What I do know, is that December is often referred to as the “silly season.”  A “silly season,” is the time when most people let their hair down, go to parties, have fun and just be silly. 

According to Wikipedia, the “silly season” is a period in the summer months in the UK, when frivolous news stories hit the mainstream media. In was defined as “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting (about August and September).”  In North America, this is often referred to as the “slow news season.”  In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the “silly season” refers to Christmas and New Year; a festive period that occur during the summer season.

December is also a month where many people celebrate different festivities, for example Christmas, Hannukah, Rohatsu and Solstice.  During the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, it can become very dark and winters are long.  In the old days, candles were lit to not only brighten a home, but also to lighten the dark.  Today candles are part of the decorations in many homes during Christmas- and other festivals.  The candles are not just a reminder that spring is coming again, but the heat and light of the candles, symbolizes the warmth and light of the sun.

Navigating through this time of year can be fun and tricky at the same time.  The best thing to do is to have a to do-list; especially when you need to go shopping.  Running errands early in the morning, before the rush, makes it so much easier and less stressful.  Knowing what is on someone’s wish list, makes shopping for gifts less stressful as well.  Taking time out to relax more and do things that you like, is key to keeping sane.  The holiday season can be a joyous occasion, but it can also be a lonely season for some.  If you are single and don’t have friends and/or family to go to, treat yourself and go to a restaurant.  Or get-together with a neighbour, or volunteer at a shelter or children’s or old age home.  When you give, of your time and energy, it is just as rewarding as receiving gifts.

Is it your time to host the dinner?  Planning a menu and buying what you need, is the easiest way to make sure you have everything you need.  Luckily you can buy many “ready-made” foodstuffs today, but nothing (in my opinion), beats a homemade meal!  If you are hosting a big group, ask everyone to chip in.  The ladies, for example, can each bring a dish and the men can provide the drinks.

Being safe during the season is important.  It is one thing to let your hair down and have fun, and another if you go “over the top” and do things that you will regret later on.  Enjoy the parties, the drinks, the food, but keep in mind that moderation is key.  Having “one too many” is not the end of the world, but becoming tipsy or drunk, is another; especially at the office party!

The holiday season is a time of giving; not just gifts, but also your time, energy and love.  Home-made gifts and “wish-list” gifts are great.  It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; it is the thought that counts.  Being with loved ones, pets, family, friends, and the like, is what counts.  It is not just a season of giving, but also reflecting.  Enjoy the season and let go of the past.  Be grateful for what is and just enjoy!    

Early bird or night owl?

Are you someone that gets up when the birds are awake; or do you burn the midnight candle?  When I was a student (and I am sure many of you will agree), I much preferred staying up late and sleeping late, then going to bed and waking up early.  Nowadays, I must be honest, it depends on the time I go to sleep, the day of the year and the season.  The only change is that, regardless of the time I go to bed, I wake up early!  Where I live there is plenty of bird life, which always greets me once the sun is up.  However, during the summer months, there is a bird that will start to chatter at around 3 pm!  Lo and behold, an hour later, around 4 pm, there is a Robin that joins in the conversation. 

What makes one person wake up early and another stay up late?  For starters, it boils down to your biorhythms, where you live and, of course, what your daily schedule looks like.  Your biorhythms, thanks to your biological clock or circadian rhythm, is 24 hours.  This is the natural rhythm of your body, which, before electricity and technology, was in sync with nature.  The earth has a magnetic pulse and animals, are fully in tune with this pulse.  Thus, they settle down when the sun sets and wakes up when the sun rises.  Although there are many people who are night owls by nature, the modern world (with electricity and technology), have changed that for a lot of people.  Night-shift workers have to adapt to not be “in sync” with nature, but to sleep when it is daytime and be awake during night time.  This, in the long term, can cause many other issues, because your biological clock is not in sync with the natural rhythms. 

People who like getting up early, spend those early hours either meditating, going to the gym, going for a walk, and so forth, before they start their day.  Others prefer to “wind down” after work.  If you are in a stressful job, or you are someone that has a lot of pent-up energy, it can be a good idea to go for a jog, a gym session or something similar, before heading home (and taking all the stress and build up energies with you).  Many years ago, Dr. Phil said he plays squash, before heading home, so not to take out any frustration or stress he might had during the day, on his family.  This, I believe, is wonderful advice; especially if you (your partner or child), has loads of energy!

A few years ago, a study was done on the biorhythms.  It was noted that children tend to get up early, whilst teenagers and students, tend to be night owls.  When the latter become adults, they migrate back, so to speak, to being morning persons.  According to Katherine Sharkey (MD), night owls can be more depressed and be more dependent on caffeine, to get them through the day.  However, all is not lost.  A study done in Belgium, found that night owls stay more focused as the day progresses, than early risers.

Early birds, on the other hand, have more flexible personalities, sleep better and has better sleeping patterns.  A Toronto-study also found that early birds tend to be happier and feel healthier than night owls, but they can “go through a dip,” in the afternoon.  These studies are interesting, but nothing is set in stone.  For example, a teenager, who used to get up early as a child, can become a night owl, because of hormonal changes – not to mention their social lives as well!  If this causes issues, then have a rule that no smartphones, laptops and the like, be used at least an hour before bedtime.  It has been proven over and over again, that looking at a screen (including watching television in bed), just before switching off the lights, will keep you awake for much longer.  The reason being that the electric pulses the device sends out, activates the brain cells that keeps you awake.  Therefore, whether you are a teenager or an adult, making a conscious decision to not look at any device for at least an hour (or 30 minutes) before you switch off your lights, is key to sleeping well and getting up refreshed.

One thing to remember, regardless whether or not you are an early riser or not, is to drink a glass of water before you reach for the caffeine.  Having breakfast is vital; if you don’t like eating a big breakfast in the morning, have something small like a rusk, toast, a health bar, fruit and/or yoghurt.  If you are starting your day on an empty stomach, not only will your energy levels quickly dip before lunchtime, but your body will store your meals as fat and not use it as energy.  The reason being; your body goes into survival-mode; it stores because it doesn’t know when the next meal will be.  Headaches and irritability can also be cause by not eating something when you get up.  Like your car, your body needs fuel to “get up and go.”  Some people go to gym before they have their breakfast.  This is a personal choice and will also depend on whether or not you suffer from low blood sugar levels.

At the end of the day, your body’s clock, your environment, diet and lifestyle, all play a key role when it comes to getting up early or late.  Although I like technology, I do believe that being in touch with and in harmony, with nature and her natural rhythms, is a wonderful way to live.  Unfortunately, modern day and work schedules for many, doesn’t allow this.  However, I think we can still work around this by making time to be outside, meditate, relax and just be! 

Making sure your garden and home is pet-friendly

In different parts of the world, there are plants that can be toxic to dogs.  When looking for a property, remember to make sure that the plants in the garden, is not toxic.  Azaleas, Lilies, Daffodils, Geraniums, Sago Palms, Tulips, Hyacinths and Peonies, can be toxic if ingested.  Some fertilizers and mulch can be just as dangerous, for example cocoa bean mulch.  

Plants to look out for if you have a cat, are Azaleas, Chrysanthemums (also simply called mums), Daffodils, Hydrangeas, Iris bulbs, Ivy (both the English ivy and Ivy Arum), Lilies, Marigolds and Wisteria.  All countries have a list of toxic- and non-toxic plants, which you can easily obtain from a vet or the like.  The above is just a drop in the ocean and it can differ, depending where you live.  For those of you who have a cat, make sure to find out which houseplants are safe as well.

Luckily there are many other plants, flowers and the like, that is not only pet-friendly, but have many purposes (both for animals and humans).  These are herbs.  For example; an herbal infusion of rosemary and/or tansy (which also repels ants), and/or pennyroyal, can help to control ticks and fleas.  Add the freshly chopped herbs to boiling water and let it cool, then lightly spray it onto the affected area.  Catnip is loved by all cats, because the leaves release a fragrance similar to cat pheromones (which have a euphoric effect).  It is also a great plant to use, to keep your cat in the garden and not pester the neighbours.  Catnip is not only used for cats, but can also be used as a flea and tick repellent, for your dog!  You can place some sprigs under your dog’s bed, or rub it onto your dog’s coat, when you were walking out in the bush / veld.  

Cats love catmint as well as cat grass.  Both are good for their digestive systems.  Dog grass, known as prairie cordgrass, is a wonderful mineral supplement for your dog.  Other herbs that is wonderful for digestive problems (especially in older pets), are fennel and mint.  Struggling with worms?  Add some yarrow, thyme and oregano, to your pet’s food. 

Pets that suffer from arthritis or inflammation, can benefit when herbs such as feverfew, comfrey leaves, celery, parsley and/or yarrow, is finely chopped and added to their food, in small quantities.  Inflammation is often caused by a diet that is too acidic.  Adding these herbs, will counter that and help to alkalize the digestive system. 

Even if your pet doesn’t suffer from any ailment, it is always a good idea to give them a tonic that will keep them healthy.  Parsley, comfrey leaves, pennywort, borage and yarrow, are all tonic herbs, that promote general health.  Finely chop the leaves and add a few drops to their food or gravy once a week. Alternatively, you can make a mild herbal tea with the chopped herbs, which you pour over their food.  To keep their skin soft, add a teaspoon of olive oil over their food; at least twice a week.

Chamomile, lavender and lemon balm, have a calming effect on both animals and humans alike.  German chamomile is the best general purpose calming herb.  If you have a pet that doesn’t like being put into a kennel, stay at home with a stranger, or is scared of fireworks (most are as it hurts their ears), then use the chamomile flowers, chopped, in small quantities in their food or gravies.  An infusion can also be made and added to your pet’s water.  Lavender, as an essential oil, is wonderful to calm everyone’s nerves – including yours!  Never rub it onto your pet’s skin.  Instead; sprinkle a few drops onto a piece of cardboard and place it near the bedding.  A lavender cushion, or sprigs placed next to / around the bedding, can also work. Lemon balm works well for dogs with digestive problems, separation anxiety, sleep disorders, stress or irritability.  You can add 1 teaspoon per 7kg of body weight, of finely chopped leaves, to your dog’s food.

Another important addition to your pet’s diet, is oil. Whether you use fish oil or olive oil, doesn’t matter – it depends, of course, on the animal! A teaspoon, poured over your pet’s food, is a wonderful way to keep their coats shiny and their skin soft. Hemp- and Cannabis oils are also great to use; not just as an added addition, but also for any ailments and general well-being.

The list of herbal remedies is something that can be added to your pet’s diet; just like vegetable peels or vegetables.  Herbal remedies are natural products, but it is not there to replace a visit to the vet.  Check-ups is always good.  When using herbal remedies and/or deciding which plants to have indoors and outdoors, please always research first.  Remember to make sure to use the botanical name, when researching herbs and, if in doubt, ask!  Just like plants, some herbs can be toxic to your pets as well. 

Take care of them like you would take care of yourself and remember; all they want and give is love!

Are you getting enough fluids in?

Many times, I have written about the importance of drinking enough water.  However, it doesn’t mean that drinking water is the only way to stay hydrated.  Black coffee and tea, without sugar, is something else you can drink.  Many fruits and vegetables, are loaded with fluids; a lovely “variation” to water! 

Did you know that most foods contain water?  About 20% of your hydration comes from certain foods.  Your body is made up of about 70% fluid and your brain about 80%.  Staying hydrated is important, as it plays a role in keeping your brain healthy, but also your internal organs, your skin and your whole body.  When you are thirsty, you are already busy dehydrating.  When you are in the sun (or in aircon or central heating for many hours), it is important to make sure to take in enough fluids to stay hydrated.

Some of the best thirst quenchers to add to your diet, are:  Cucumbers:  contain 95% water; Tomatoes:  contain 95% water; Celery:  contain 95% water; Romaine lettuce:  95% water; Broth-based soup:  92% water; Watermelon:  92% water; Peaches:  89% water; Yoghurt:  85% water.

The above-list is but the tip of the ice berg.  Most fruits and vegetables contain fluids.  Eating a variety and making sure to add plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet, will be more than enough.  However, drinking fluids, like water, is still important and should not be underestimated.  Bottled, still water is also good and, adding a few slices of lemon, strawberry or oranges, to water, will enhance the flavour.  Water is a source of life.  All living beings need water.  It is said that you can go without food for a number of days, but only survive, without water, for a few hours.

During the warm, summer months, fruits and salads are a great way to up your fluid intake. Cooldrinks, with added sugars and other substances, doesn’t count. Rather opt for homemade, flavoured water, tea and/or coffee, or just plain water. During winter, you can enjoy soups, broths and warm drinks, like tea and coffee. Drinking milk is also fine; unless you don’t like it.

Everyone, from animals, to plants, to humans, need water to live and thrive.  Water is the life force that not only protects an unborn baby, but also life on earth.  Instinctively, both animals and humans, are drawn to water.  From taking a shower, a bath, going for a swim and drinking water, everyone needs water.  Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, are a great way to up your fluid intake. 

Listening to your body, and watching out for signals (for example a dry skin and mouth), is key to make sure that your fluid intake is enough.  Whether it is 6 – 8 glasses per day, or eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well, is up to each person.  Most importantly, is to make sure that you don’t dehydrate.

More on Reading your body like a book

The crown of your head, your hair, has its good days and bad days.  Some people have a dry or sensitive scalp, others get the odd grey hair prematurely, whilst many people complain about thinning hair as they age. 

Dry, flaky scalp and dull, lifeless hair, both reflect a diet rich in refined sugars and a lack of fatty acids.  Eliminating refined sugars and adding things like fish, unroasted nuts and seeds, and salad oils (olive oil, flaxseed oil, and so forth), will not only nourish your skin, but bring back the shine in your hair as well.  Another supplement to add, especially if you don’t eat a lot of, or any, red meat, is a vitamin B-complex.

A sensitive scalp can occur if you spend too much time in the hot sun without protection, but it can also be something that is with you every day.  Taking cod-liver oil (or something similar), will feed the scalp and help it to become more moist and less sensitive.  Using a brush that has natural bristles and being careful when you tie your hair, will also help.  If you have a vitamin D-deficiency, add it to your diet (especially if you don’t go out in the sun).  Many people living in the Northern Hemisphere suffers from a vitamin D-deficiency; important not only for your scalp but it helps to build and maintain a strong immune system as well.

Premature greying is not something that is something that is liked by everyone.  There are many factors at play – genes, stress and/or a supplement-deficiency.  If you are one of those who is starting to see grey hairs sticking out, try adding PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), a vitamin B, to your supplement program.  Some people also found success with the Chinese herb “ho-shou-wu” or “fo-ti.”  I didn’t study Chinese medicine, so please do your research first before using it!

Are you noticing that your hair is starting to thin out?  Sometimes this is caused due to a pregnancy (or recent pregnancy), other times it is due to hormonal changes as you age, or it can be due to stress and lack of certain vitamins and minerals in your diet.  A study indicated that hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), can cause thinning of the hair.  When we age, our stomachs stop producing adequate levels of stomach acid and pepsin.  This leads to poor digestion of essential proteins and impedes the growth of new hair.  Supplementing your diet with hydrochloric acid-pepsin-tablets / capsules, will help your stomach to digest and absorb the protein properly.

If you are losing an abnormal amount of hair on your legs, arms, underarms, or anywhere else, ask your health practitioner to test your androgenic- hormone and testosterone-levels.  Losing too much hair on the body, can be a sign of low hormone levels, which impedes your immune system’s functioning.

Your mouth, tongue and lips, can quickly let you know whether or not you are in tip-top shape.  A cold sore, caused by the herpes virus, can be caused due to stress, a lack of certain nutrients, a cracked lip, or an immune system that is not running on full capacity.  Adding selenium, found in garlic and onions, to your diet, can help.  Taking a L-lysine-supplement once a week or month, can help as well. 

Cracked lips can be caused by many factors: allergies like hay fever or sinus, cold or very hot weather, being in a room with aircon (which causes your lips to dry out), a lack of vitamin C and/or a lack of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin).  As always, do make sure to take a good vitamin B-complex supplement, if you don’t eat any red meat.

Cancer sores can be triggered by something in your diet.  Write down what you eat and/or drink, when it reoccurs, and eliminate this from your diet.  Lactobacillus acidophilus can also help and stay clear of using toothpaste which contains sodium lauryl sulphate. 

Bleeding gums can either be caused by allergies, especially if you sleep with an open mouth, or periodontal disease.  Supplementing with coenzyme Q10 and folate, can help.

Our eyes are the windows to our soul.  For many years, doctors used (and is still using) Iridology, to see what is going on inside of our bodies.  Cloudy eyes (cataracts), are usually due to ageing.  Studies have found that it can also be linked to sugar-insulin metabolism.  Too much refined sugar is not just bad for the waistline, but it can also affect your lenses.  How?  Your lenses respond to high blood-sugar levels by “helping” it to remove some of the excess.  Unfortunately, the lenses cannot store the excess sugar, thus it condenses, over time, into cataracts.

Red, watery eyes can be caused by the weather, an allergy or it could be an infection.  If you do notice that they eye is irritated and/or watery, seek help.  The last thing you want to do is to damage your eyes!  Remember, you only have one pair!  An eye haemorrhage occurs when one of the blood vessels bursts.  This can be caused by rubbing your eyes, pressure on the eye or, in rare instances, it could be a sign of hypertension.  If you are unsure, ask a medical practitioner for advice.

Vitamins A, C, K, as well as B2, Zinc and Selenium, are all important to add to your diet, as all of these play a vital role in keeping your eyes healthy.  Lutein is another important ingredient, used by your eyes to stay healthy and strong.

Our nails are another place to look for any signs of changes.  Cracked (brittle) nails can be caused by low acid and pepsin production in your stomach, but it can also be caused by a lack of calcium, magnesium and potassium, in your diet. 

White spots almost always point to a zinc deficiency.  In rare cases it can also be an indication of low levels of pancreatic enzymes or gluten-gliadin intolerance.  Zinc is not easily found in foodstuffs, so best to take it as a supplement, or as part of a multi-vitamin supplement. If in doubt, please consult a health practitioner.

The last place that “tells” you what is going on, is your bones and joints.  After the age of 30, our bone-growth stops.  Therefore, it is important to exercise and do weight-bearing exercises.  This can be anything from walking, jogging, cycling, to working out with hand weights, a Pilates ball and even swimming.  Many suffer from osteoarthritis as the years go by.  Not only is mild exercises like walking, Pilates, swimming and stretching, good, but also taking extra supplements like Omega oils, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin, to naturally repair the damaged joint cartilage.  It can also prevent swelling, together with niacinamide.  Many people eliminate the “nightshade” vegetables from their diet, which seems to help. 

Our bodies is our temple.  Taking care of ourselves, both internally and externally, is key to living a well-balanced, healthy life.  being healthy should not be seen as a chore; rather it should be a lifestyle.  When something is not in balance on the inside, it will quickly show on the outside.  So, dear readers, listen, and in this case look at, your body, for any messages that something is not in sync.

Reading your body like a book

Have you ever looked at your body, your skin and wonder why is it looking this or that way?  In this blog post, I am going to delve deeper into the first sign, that your body gives to tell you that something is either amiss from your diet, or that something is out of balance:  your skin.  Because the skin is the largest organ (and it sits on the outside), it is quite easy to spot when something has changes, for example dry skin, cracked lips, and so forth.

Your stomach is your “second brain,” and for good reason.  When the pH-level in your gut is out of balance, dis-ease sets in.  Many ailments, including cancers, breed in an environment that is very acidic.  Therefore, it is important to make sure that you not only add more alkaline-based foods to your diet, but also take a probiotic or alkaline / acid- powder, to maintain a balanced pH-level.

Rosy cheeks are often associated with and English lass, or someone that drinks a lot.  However, as we get older, our stomachs stop producing adequate levels of hydrochloric acid and pepsin.  Adding supplements that contain these elements, can correct this problem.  If your face is red all over, it could be acne rosacea.  Using mediation and/or ointment can help, but adding hydrochloric acid and pepsin, is proven to help combat acne all together.  Again, if you have low stomach acidity, digestion can be hampered, thus, better to fix it as soon as possible.

People have either a “yellow undertone” or “blue undertone” and this determines what colours will suit you best when choosing clothes and make-up.  However, people over 50 can also have either a slightly yellow tone or brownish-yellow flecks on their skin.  This can either be due to the beforementioned reason, or it can be a lack of B12.  The brownish-yellow flecks can either be “old age” or can also point to an underactive thyroid, diabetes or insulin problems.  Other signs that it could be an underactive thyroid, is persistently low body temperature, dry skin, poor hair and weak nails.  Again, these are just guidelines and not a definite cause.  Brittle nails can also be linked to a lack of Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium.  Best to speak to your medical practitioner or a health expert, if you notice any changes.

Adult- and teenage-acne can both be caused by either an allergy or food intolerance, diet and/or hormonal changes.  Topical creams that contain niacinamide, azelaic acid and pantothenic acid, can reduce acne, as well as tea-tree oil.  Changing your diet, eliminating sugar, eating more foods that contain zinc and essential fatty acids (for example unroasted sunflower- and pumpkin seeds), can be very helpful. 

If you have a bumpy or rough skin on your elbows and/or heels, it could point to a deficiency in vitamin A.  Eating more carrots, sweet potatoes, yams and squash, can help.  Also make sure that you don’t have a vitamin B-deficiency. 

Our skins love to be pampered with body lotions, face creams and the like.  However, no cream will work if you don’t nourish your skin on the inside.  Dry skin often points to a diet that lacks essential fatty acids.  Eating more fish, nuts and salad oils (or taking a supplement), can help.  Drinking enough water to keep the skin hydrated from the inside, is important as well.  Being out in the sunshine is also important; yes, without sunscreen!  Otherwise, your body cannot absorb vitamin D.  Do remember, to stay out of the sun when it is at its hottest.  If you want to protect your face, wear a hat.  If you don’t like being out in the sun, or live somewhere where it is not as hot as in other countries, make sure to take a vitamin D-supplement.  Not only is it good for the skin, but also the brain, our immune system and our general well-being.

Eczema and Psoriasis are both caused by allergies (food and/or other).  Ointments can alleviate it, but be careful if you are using cortisone, as this causes the skin to become thin (causing bruises easily).  Essential fatty acids and zinc, seem to alleviate eczema, while nickel and bromide can help with psoriasis.  Before using or adding it to your / your child’s diet, consult a health practitioner first.  Eliminating the cause of the allergy are also key.

Wrinkles, varicose veins, easy bruising and skin creases, can all appear as we age.  Not every wrinkle or bruise is a sign of something seriously wrong.  Using creams with added collagen, taking collagen- and omega-supplements can help with wrinkles, for example.  Varicose veins can be alleviated by lying with your legs against the wall for 15 minutes; especially if you are on your feet for most of the day.  Flavonoids, found in citrus fruit, blueberries, all red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables, vitamin E, magnesium and thinks like bilberry, gingko, hawthorn and horse chestnut, can help with it.  Bruising easily?  Take extra vitamin C as well as vitamin K (found in flavonoids).  Skin creases is something that the older generation gets.  It is not something to worry about, unless you start to feel different.

Our skin is a wonderful gift; a tool that will quickly tell you if something, internally, is out of balance.  In the coming weeks, I am going to delve into other parts of the body, to see what it can tell us when it comes to our health and well-being!

PS:  If you don’t suffer from any skin allergy, but your skin is itching, exfoliation can do the trick.  Exfoliating at least once or twice a week, can help.  Be careful when exfoliating parts like your face, where the skin is not so thick as the body’s skin.  using an exfoliating gel is very useful.  Dry body brushing is another quick and easy way to get rid of the dead cells and skin, as well as boosts circulation.  Always remember to brush the right side from the body first, in the direction of the heart, and down on the left side.